"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Candle

Mere wax and wick.  But touch it with a flame - 
Like sudden fireworks!  The room's aglow.
But how it works, I doubt I'll ever know.
Each candle's different, but the light's the same.
It's all a jumble - scientific facts
Of heat and friction, waves and infrared.
But, textbook, if you can, explain instead
Why solace comes from simple wick and wax?

It's easy, really. Solace comes to soul - 
To starving soul - as little scraps of light.
What difference makes it if the scrap is real?
If mortal thing can break immortal seal?
O Incorporeal, let fleshly fight
Until its candle's just a lump of coal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not Blue

You asked, "What color is the sky?"
I said, "You know as well as I.
It's blue, the shade of tears and dreams,
Of blood and love and lovely things."

You said, "I know more than you do.
The sky is every shade but blue.
It's red and green and brown and pink - 
It's every color you can think -
But never has the sky been blue."

I didn't speak.  I didn't say
I thought you were as mad as day
Is long.  But still it's in my mind,
The day my cosmos ceased to rhyme.

I didn't understand it now,
Because of you, your theories how
The sky had lied - had lied to me,
And given you reality.

The silence asks, "Where are you now?"
I have no answers as to how
Reality just let you go
With nothing left to see or show.

Nothing left of tears and dreams,
Or blood and love and lovely things.
Just one same house with different paint
And thoughts I've learned to love to hate.
No, none of love and lovely things.

I never speak, I never say
Because of you and that one day - 
When you and sky blue went away - 
That day I learned Reality
Will lie to every man and me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Best And Worst Of YA Romances

No, not actual romance novels - just the little romantic subplots in the books.  I'm not that far gone.

Romance.  It makes some people - like a few of my friends - squeal in anticipation.  Who falls for whom?  What triangles or possibly quadrangles will there be?  Is it doomed love?  (Generally the answers, by the way, are, respectively: everyone, as many as possible, and of course it is.)

For my part, heavy-handed romance is just groan-worthy.  Shove a 'I want to be with you for eternity' in my face and I'll stab it with any handy pointed object.

But some authors are better about the delicate art of literary falling-in-love.  These authors are the ones that don't make you go 'Awww!  How cute!' - they make you go 'I hope they get through this, because they DESERVE each other.'

The following lists summarize my humble opinion of the best and worst of YA pairs.


5.  Meggie/Doria - Ink Trilogy, by Cornelia Funke
Oh, Meggie.  You had been so cool until this point.  The heroine who had done so much with her father Mo and her friends Dustfinger, Gwin, Farid, and the others, was reduced to love triangles.  Apparently Ms. Funke decided that Meggie could be retired from the cool-kid-hero role to the weepy-teen-girl role.  To make matters worse, Doria was barely a character - he was a name, given a cardboard body and a duty to lure Meggie away from the path of awesomeness.  So we have suddenly-lame Meggie and where's-my-personality Doria, leaving Farid, Meggie's previous suitor, out in the cold.  I'm sorry, Farid.  Ink fans know how you feel.

4.  Crowpaw/Feathertail - Warriors: The New Prophecy, by Erin Hunter
I love Warriors, don't get me wrong.  But Erin Hunter really got random with young, hot-headed apprentice Crowpaw and airheaded, ditzy Feathertail. I can understand why Crowpaw might get a little crush on Feathertail, who seemed to be the only one who could stand him.  But her falling for him?  How?  And can anyone say, creepy?  Besides, Crowpaw had too much potential to be stuck with her.  Thank goodness that romance didn't last long.

3. Luce/Daniel - Fallen, by Lauren Kate
Now, I was expecting this.  Pick up any new YA novel about fallen angels, like Lauren Kate's Fallen, and there's a 99 percent chance that the inevitable romance will stink.  But I wasn't expecting it to be that bad.  The only thing I can ask is... why?  Luce somehow falls in love with Daniel when he flips her off, when he ignores her at every turn, when he's scary as all get-out?  I don't care if it's destined or fated or whatever - that's just wrong.  Thanks, Ms. Kate, but some logic would be nice with the 'love'.

2. Merlin/Hallia - The Lost Years of Merlin series, by T.A. Barron
Again - Merlin, you were so cool!  Why?  Why must you fall in love with that proud deer-girl who doesn't deserve you?  In Merlin's case, it's not even that his and Hallia's romance was random and ill-founded.  It's that Hallia just does not fit Merlin.  Does she really love him?  All she can do is criticize him and spout anti-mankind drivel.  More importantly, why does Merlin put up with her? 

1. Max/Fang/Dylan - Maximum Ride series, by James Patterson
You know it's gotta be bad when the pair isn't even a pair.  I'm pretty sure most people already know about this horrible, horrible love-triangle-gone-Apocalypse, but I still think it deserves first prize.  After all, in The Angel Experiment, Max + Fang = cliché but acceptable pairing.  Come on, Fang was awesome with wings.  Now, as we move into the simply Angel age, Max is stupid, Fang is not Fang, and we have Dylan.  We've spent six books hearing that Fang is Max's soulmate.  Then a cute guy wanders in, and Max has doubts and Fang is smiling.  Sorry, JP.  I'm not buying.


5.  Marak/Darsal - The Lost Books of History series, by Ted Dekker
Leave it to Dekker to come up with one of the best romances lately.  Marak doesn't show up until the sixth book of the series, Elyon, when Darsal is a now a woman, older and far more scarred than she was at the beginning in Chosen.  But that doesn't make Marak any less compelling.  No roses and chocolates for this pair - Marak is a Scab, a being Darsal has sworn to kill... and now has sworn to love.  I won't say anymore, but let me just say that Marak more than makes up for the loss of Darsal's previous lover.

4.  Nathaniel/Kitty - The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Jonathan Stroud
Who didn't guess in The Amulet of Samarkand that the streetwise girl Kitty would end up being Nathaniel's almost-love interest in the last book?  But the lack of surprise doesn't make them any less interesting.  Nathaniel's self-assured arrogance, mostly for show, plus Kitty's no-nonsense way of thinking... sparks fly.  Really.  Though there's never any real romance, the hints of it are tantalizing.  If you didn't want Nate and Kitty to end up together by the time you read half of Ptolemy's Gate, there is something wrong with you.

3. Artemis/Holly - The Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer
Oh, Artemis.  Oh, Holly.  Perfection - at least as close as it can get, even if Holly is a fairy and Artemis is human.  One of the reasons that they're such a compelling pair is that they're actually each other's weaknesses. With anyone else they would do what they had trained to do - for Artemis, commit crime; for Holly, solve crime.  But when one is in trouble, the other drops everything he's supposed to do to launch a rescue.  And who doesn't love the witty banter?  Witty banter is a sure-fire sign of meant-to-be.

2. Theo/Mickle - Westmark Trilogy, by Lloyd Alexander
Alexander is most widely known for his Chronicles of Prydain, but Westmark, in my opinion, far exceeds Taran's adventures - especially in the romance department.  Theo, the printer's devil-turned-reformer-turned-soldier-turned-who-knows-what-else, and Mickle, the beggar-girl-turned-queen, are the most realistic, refreshing pair I've read in a while - ironic, considering the books were written in the 80s.  There are no passionate speeches, no loving embraces... just the sturdy, dependable knowledge that they're in love and would do anything to find each other again when the time is right.  The last book, The Beggar Queen, is sitting on my to-read stack now, so I'm excited to find out how their story ends.

1. Sophie/Howl - Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones
Perhaps my favorite book of all time, Howl's Moving Castle has a great romance to match its outstanding story.  What do you get when you put a plain, straight-thinking girl who has been cursed with the body of a ninety-year-old to work for a vain, arrogant, but inwardly sweet wizard with a reputation of eating girls' hearts?  Again I say - flying sparks.  Everywhere.  It's pure delight to watch their relationship grow through constant shouting matches.  And Howl at the end... you'd just have to read it.

There they are, my top five in the polar categories.  Any additions or rebuttals?  

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Sky And The Sea

Clipart by Microsoft Office

The fifth day of voyage dawned bright and clear
And she whispered the story soft in my ear
As the Sun flew low o'er the horizon red
She told me how the Sea and the Sky were wed
How the Sea and Sky were wed

The Sky had used the waters for his looking glass
But he had never noticed what a lovely lass
That the Sea had become when Time first began
To run, and run as fast as he can
And run as fast as he can

The Sea would use the Sky to help her dye her gown
And the Stars at night would form her watery crown
But she'd never seen the Sky for what he really was
Only blue for her shift, and black for her gauze
Only black for to make her gauze

But as Time began to race and the mortals to move
The Winds would get restless and disapprove
Of staying on land for very long at once
So they swirled and swept away, away to their hunts
Away, away to their hunts

The hunts led them on to the Sky and the Sea
Where the freedom was right, where the freedom could be
And as the Winds played wild in their newfound home
The Sea saw his clouds, and the Sky her foam.
Saw his clouds, and he her foam

The Winds were witness to the marvelous sight
When the Sea gave up her waters to the Sky's pure light
And then, because he loved her, he returned it to her
And rain fell between them, and all over the Earth
Between them and all over the Earth

The storm continued on for three nights and three days
And the Sky and the Sea were colored all the same grays
So the Winds, when they looked, couldn't tell them apart -
'Soon it will be, as we see, they will share the same heart.'
Soon they would share the same heart

Their whispers still echoed on the fourth day's morn 
When the Sky and the Sea, so faded, so worn,
Were lit by a burning, great circle of red
That froze at the point where the Sky and Sea were wed
At the point where the Sky and Sea were wed.

So the Sea would cradle one half, and the Sky would hold the other
While the Stars would gaze upon it, their heavenly brother,
And whisper to themselves, 'They do share the same heart,
For when they both hold the Sun, we can't tell them apart.'
They couldn't tell the Sky and Sea apart.

Thus the Sky and Sea were wed at the start of Time,
And never again will there be such a rhyme
As the one that she gave on the fifth day at Sea
When she spoke about the heavenly wedding to me
About the heavenly wedding to me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beast's Blood - Part One

Foreward: Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairytale ever.  Who can't love the story?  I've had ideas for retellings churning around in my brain for ages, but this is the one that stuck.  I can't help but love the characters already.  And just the idea.  I honestly can't wait to finish this story.  So get ready for Beast's Blood, a novella blending Beauty and the Beast, space travel, and - of course - a magical curse.


The interloper must have been a Hunter.  Rus smelled the acrid tang of metal weaponry hanging off the man in long ropes, like a queen's jewelry.  A well-equipped Hunter, apparently - always bad news.  Rus let out a silent sigh through his mouth, the cloud of hot air that spewed out pocked by his fangs.  To tell or not to tell, that was the question.

Sock would only panic, and the rest of the magi-formed would get their bloodlust up.  That would be the end of that Hunter.  Then the government would flock to the hint of blood like so many vultures descending on a rotting corpse.  Rus shook his head, his head-fur tickling the shorter bristles on his shoulders.  No - he would hunt the Hunter himself.

Rus walked along the claustrophobic corridor, the occasional leak in the roof splattering against him.  Up here, on the highest level of the ruins left upright, the rain could easily seep through the holes in the ceiling; his feet-paws made puddles whisper as he stepped in them.  

At the end of the corridor, Rus passed through a doorway - the wood long corroded away by time - and descended the four flights of stairs.  He had to rush past places where there was no wall left.  During these quick glimpses outward, Rus scanned the rock-studded landscape: gray-red sky, browned dead tundra, storm clouds in the distance.  No sign of the Hunter.  But he was there.  His bloody scent intensified with each step Rus took.

The whole operation of silence was in most danger the minute Rus set foot in the central chamber.  Lit only by the stagnant light that dripped through more wounds in the roof and walls, the stone hall was the crossroads of magi-formed life in the ruins.  At any minute, one of the magi-formeds - Sock, or Scales, or Persee, or some other active member of their tribe - might appear.  And some of the ones that had been transformed into carnivores would smell him.  Even now, Rus could sense his own fear-scent.  This would have to be quick and silent.

Rus peeked about, made certain it was silent, checked for smells.  Everything was stale.  His wolf-sense told him that it was safe.  For extra security, he dropped to all fours; the pads on his fingers and the balls of his feet would make him quiet, and the extra power would make him fast.  He raced from the staircase cubby to the half-open ruin door.

Safe! Rus thought, sliding to a stop and then lunging through the doorway.  A gentle sprinkle of rain accosted him at once.  He stood, the bones in his back crackling as they re-accustomed themselves to a human position.  Rus winced.  Every time he ran wolf-like, it got harder to revert to a sapient posture.

Behind the soothing lullaby of the rain, silence hung like a muffler.  Rus executed a slow three-eighty twirl, even checking the front walls of the ruins - the Hunter could be anywhere, after all.  But his canine sight didn't detect anything.

Rus's muscles tensed of their own volition.  The blood-metal scent snaked past the rain-scent, oozing into his nostrils and stinging at his nerves.  He shuddered.  That Hunter would appear at any moment.  He was out there - somewhere.  Rus wasn't about to let him attack his makeshift family.

Pain lanced through his arm and side. 

The Hunter leapt away from the ruin's second story, from behind the small jutting segment of wall.  He hit the ground with a hiss; the landing barely upset the pebbles on the ground.  A gun was already in his hand as he straightened. 

Rus roared again as blood trickled from the hole in his arm.  He lashed out with the other, catching the Hunter's hand with his five long claws.  The gun flew away, firing as it went.  The Hunter, barely fazed, reached into one of his bodysuit's compartments.

Rus didn't let him pull anything out.  One bound, and he had the Hunter pinned to the ground, wolf-style.

The Hunter didn't flinch.  He yanked his hand from the bodysuit compartment.  A knife flashed in his grasp; he stabbed at Rus's throat.  Rus opened his jaws and clamped down on the Hunter's hand.  Blood erupted in his mouth.  The blade shot down, scraping harmlessly against Rus's torso scales.

Eyes bulging, the Hunter nevertheless didn't try to pull his hand away.  That would only tear skin and tendons more.  When he shoved the other shaking hand into a compartment, Rus tightened his jaw.  Bone crunched audibly.

The Hunter squeaked.  

Suppressing an urge to smirk wolfishly - the squeak had not been a manly noise - Rus released the ruined hand, letting it drop to the Hunter's chest.  He placed a paw on the man's torso and bent his head nearer; hybrid neck bones creaked as they stretched to accommodate the movement.  "You chose the wrong magi-formed to hunt," he growled.

Despite his position, the Hunter spat in Rus's face; his voice was steady.  "My daughter will come to find me.  Then she'll kill you."

Rus laughed - half human laugh, half lionish rumble.  "Only if you want to release my hellspawn servants on your sheltered little world." He slid his paw to the Hunter's neck.  "Take off your tracker."

The Hunter raised an eyebrow.  "Tracker."

"How your daughter will find you." Rus narrowed his eyes.  "I've killed Hunters before.  I know how you work."

The man hesitated, unmoving.  Rus listened to the drip-drip-drip of blood in the spreading puddle under the Hunter's hand.  Finally, he nodded, reached down with his unmarred fingers, and wrenched a metal, button-sized cube from his belt.  Rus snatched it in his jaws and crunched down.  For a moment, energy zapped his tongue.  Then he spat the remains of the little tracker onto the ground.  

He moved cautiously off the Hunter's chest.  "Stand," he said.  "If you try something, I'll kill you.  I only consider prisoners once."

Rus stood as the Hunter did.  The Hunter did with considerably more grace.  It hurt, but Rus kept his face blank.

"Into the ruins," he growled, twisting his neck to realign the tendons.  "Unless you'd rather be beast food."

The Hunter, without a word, walked to the ruins, blood seeping from tears in his bodysuit.  Rus stayed close behind him, but paused for a few moments to scan the skies.  Cloud cover had increased, but it didn't hide the faint hovering sphere just above the ruins.  The Hunter's ship hovered in wait.  He hadn't lied.  Rus would soon have another visitor.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Poem - Titanic Pride

Picture from Microsoft Office 

It's intriguing to think
Of what happened to sink
A ship the size of Titanic;

To be crashed by a rock
Must have been quite a shock 
And the people must have gone manic.

Just a quiet old thing - 
How on earth could it bring
Such grandeur to such great destruction?

The jewel of the seas
Down on its metal knees
Through ignorance of one small instruction:

"Don't taunt the unknown
For it flies and has flown
To the seat of man's unmanly pride;

And the smallest of stones
Will break folly's bones
And the past won't forget what you tried."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Frostbitten - Chapter Twenty-Five

Jack fell asleep shivering.  Hermes, ignoring his painfully tingling nerves, picked up his once-apprentice and laid him in the hospital room chair.  Jack moaned softly and curled into a ball, his head falling onto the chair arm.

His words hung in Hermes’s head like a death call.  Your mark worked.

Hermes sat back on the edge of his bed and watched Jack twitch and shift through sleep.  Was it worth it, Hermes?  Was Jack turning ‘good’ again really worth ruining his life?